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Hobby sales still healthy even after weak report

Published: October 16, 2015
A new report on U.S. retail sales shows an overall decline in consumer spending, even though discretionary spending remains healthy.

According to the September 2015 Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade and Food Services report, released on Oct. 14, sales fell at appliance and electronic stores, as well as online stores. However, consumers upped their purchases of automobiles and furniture and spent more on hobbies, clothing and eating out. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% according to the Commence Department.

Even though the numbers were weaker than economists predicted, some have cautioned against reading too much into the soft retail sales report, noting discretionary spending continues to be fairly healthy. “The overall message is that consumer spending has remained extremely strong,” said Harm Bandholz, chief economist at UniCredit Research in New York.

"The softness of September's figures supports our view that the Fed probably isn't going to hike interest rates until early next year," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto. This means that even though third quarter retail sales might not be what economists optimistically predicted, the numbers should not cause panic among retailers.